It’s never a dull day in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is just on the cusp of its release later this month, and already (as they always have been) Marvel are looking ahead to their next film, Iron Man 3.

With Robert Downey, Jr. of course returning as Iron Man in both The Avengers and the third instalment in the Iron Man franchise, Variety are reporting that Sir Ben Kingsley is in final talks to take the villain role for the third film, following in the footsteps of Faran Tahir, Jeff Bridges, and Mickey Rourke from the first two films.

*Spoiler alert: Here comes a bit of plot detail about Kingsley’s character*

“Kingsley’s character is involved in the spread of a virus through nanobots, given that “Iron Man 3” is loosely based on Warren Ellis’ six-issue “Extremis” comicbook series first published in 2005. That arc — which also heavily influenced the first “Iron Man” pic — introduced a new origin story and focused heavily on nanotechnology.”

Along with Downey, Jr.’s return, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, and Don Cheadle are all expected to return, as well as Paul Bettany once more voicing JARVIS.

Shane Black is reuniting with Downey, Jr. after the brilliant Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, taking over from Jon Favreau behind the helm, and has co-written the script with Drew Pearce (who’s also been hired to pen Sherlock Holmes 3). Production is set to begin this May around North Carolina, and Marvel have already scheduled the film’s release on 3rd May, 2013. Anybody else already incredibly excited?

And before that, we can of course look forward to seeing The Avengers (‘Avengers Assemble’ here in the UK) very soon, with its UK release set for 26th April, followed soon after in the US on 4th May. For all we’ve seen from The Avengers, you can click right here. Enjoy.